The Justice Centre’s Work to Defend Peaceful Protest
The Justice Centre defended participants and supporters of the Freedom Convoy during their historic protest, after the invocation of the Emergencies Act, and through the Public Order Emergency Commission.
February 17, 2023
The Justice Centre is disappointed with Commissioner Rouleau's conclusion that the threshold for invoking the Emergencies Act was met. This conclusion does not bind the Federal Court. On April 3-5, 2023, in Ottawa, the Federal Court will hear the legal and constitutional challenge in Jost et al v Canada to the declaration of an emergency in response to the Freedom Convoy.
Thousands of Canadians including hundreds of truckers from across the country made their way to Ottawa in January 2022, to exercise their right to peacefully protest government mandates. This grassroots movement resulted in the largest peaceful protest in Canadian history.
In response, the federal government invoked the Emergencies Act, deploying armed police, and using unprecedented power and violence to forcibly end an otherwise peaceful protest. The government also froze bank accounts of everyday Canadians who supported the protestors.
In February 2022, the Justice Centre funded a team of lawyers to provide on-the-ground legal advice and representation to peaceful Canadian protestors in Ottawa. During the Ottawa protest, these lawyers appeared in court on behalf of protestors, represented protestors in communications with police and government, and played a role in coordinating an agreement with the City of Ottawa to move trucks out of residential areas.
Since February of 2022, the Justice Centre has defended the constitutional freedoms of participants in and donors to the Freedom Convoy in the following ways:
- Providing criminal defense counsel to dozens of Canadians who have been criminally charged when their sole “crime” was to exercise their Charter rights to assemble peacefully in Ottawa and express their opposition to government lockdowns and vaccine mandate charges;
- Funding legal counsel to defend the participants and donors who are being sued as defendant classes in Zexi Li et al v Chris Barber et al, a nearly $300 million class action lawsuit currently in Ontario Superior Court;
- Commencing the Federal Court challenge in Jost et al v Canada on behalf of four Canadians who participated in the Ottawa Freedom Convoy, seeking a declaration that the Prime Minister and Cabinet acted illegally when declaring a peaceful protest to be a “national emergency”;
- Providing support and funding for lawyers who participated actively in the weeks-long Public Order Emergency Commission; and
- Participating as a party with standing before the Public Order Emergency Commission.
Thanks to the generous donations of Canadians, the Justice Centre has provided more than $1.5 million and two dozen lawyers to defend the constitutional freedoms of participants in and donors to the Freedom Convoy. Clients receive legal advice and representation without charge, in defence of their Charter rights and freedoms.
Our legal defense of the Freedom Convoy is far from finished, and you can support this work specifically by donating at www.jccf.ca/donate/ and selecting the “Truckers’ Legal Defense” campaign.
POEC Related News Releases
Learn about the Final Report from an expert perspective on February 24
In February 2022, Canada experienced an unprecedented–and arguably, highly successful–protest when hundreds of trucks arrived in Ottawa to protest the extension of federal border vaccine mandates to truckers. In response, the Federal Government invoked the Emergencies Act on February 14, 2022.
As a safeguard, the Emergencies Act mandates that an inquiry be held to investigate the circumstances leading to the Act’s invocation and the appropriateness of the measures taken. The Public Order Emergency Commission was launched, and the testimonies of protesters, officials, and politicians were heard by the Commission to determine the truth about what happened in the nation’s capital and to investigate the Government’s justification for using emergency powers. The Commission’s final report will be released on February 20, 2023. This conversation will explore what was revealed at the hearings, what was found by the Commission, and what it means for your rights and freedoms.